Newsletter

This Month in the Church Year

Published on February 21, 2014

February

Sundays

2nd of February – Candlemas, the Presentation of our Lord and the Purification of Mary
Thirty-two days after Jesus’ circumcision and seventy weeks after the announcement of John’s birth to Zechariah by the angel Gabriel, the Lord comes to His temple to fulfill the Torah (Luke 2:22-38). The days are indeed fulfilled with the presentation. Jesus’ parents keep the Torah and fulfill it by bringing Jesus to His true home. Also, Jesus’ parents offer the alternative sacrifice of two turtledoves or two pigeons. Leviticus 12:8 allows this instead of a lamb, since not everyone could afford a lamb (showing the poverty and humility of Joseph and Mary). Yet no lamb was necessary because already here at forty days old, Jesus is the Lamb brought to His temple for sacrifice. Simeon’s Nunc Dimmitis is a beautiful example of the immediate response to this inauguration of God’s consolation and redemption in the Christ Child. Speaking to Mary, Simeon also prophesies about the destiny of the child.

9th of February – The Transfiguration of Our Lord
The Lord appeared to Moses in the light of the burning bush (Ex. 3:1–14). Later Moses’ face would shine with the light of God’s glory when he came down from Mount Sinai (Ex. 34:29–35). At the Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with the One who is the Light of Light Himself (Matt. 17:1–9). Jesus’ glory as God shines with brilliant splendor in and through His human nature. By this epiphany, our Lord confirmed the prophetic word (2 Pet. 1:16–21), revealing that He is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. He manifested His majesty as the eternal Son of the Father, and He wonderfully foreshowed our adoption as sons (Collect). We who have been baptized into Christ’s body are given a glimpse of the glory that we will share with Him in the resurrection on the Last Day.

16th of February – Septuagesima
GRACE ALONE
The people of Israel contended with the Lord in the wilderness (Ex. 17:1–7). They were dissatisfied with His provision. In the same way, the first laborers in the vineyard complained against the landowner for the wage he provided them (Matt. 20:1–16). They charged him with being unfair, but in reality he was being generous. For the Lord does not wish to deal with us on the basis of what we deserve but on the basis of His abounding grace in Christ. The first—those who rely on their own merits—will be last. “For they were overthrown in the wilderness” (1 Cor. 10:5). But the last, those who rely on Christ, will be first. For Christ is the Rock (1 Cor. 9:24–10:5). He is the One who was struck and from whose side blood and water flowed that we may be cleansed of our sin.

23rd of February – Sexagesima
SCRIPTURE ALONE
The Sower sows the seed of His Word (Luke 8:4–15). This Word is living and powerful (Heb. 4:9–13) to conceive new life in those who hear it. But the planting of Christ is attacked by the devil, the world, and the flesh. Satan snatches the Word away from hard hearts. The riches and pleasures of this life choke off faith. Shallow and emotional belief withers in time of temptation and trouble. But see how Christ bears this attack for us! Christ’s cross was planted in the hard and rocky soil of Golgotha. A crown of thorns was placed upon His head. Satan and His demons hellishly hounded and devoured Him. Yet, through His dying and rising again, He destroyed these enemies of ours. Jesus is Himself the Seed which fell to the ground and died in order that it might sprout forth to new life and produce much grain. In Him, the weak are strong (2 Cor. 11:19–12:9). He is the Word of the Father which does not return void (Is. 55:10–13) but yields a harvest hundredfold.

Feasts and Festivals

2nd of February – Candlemas, the Presentation of our Lord and the Purification of Mary
See Above.

24th of February – St. Matthias
St. Matthias is one of the lesser-known apostles. According to the Early Church Fathers, Matthias was one of the seventy-two sent out by Jesus in Luke 10:1-20. After the ascension, Matthias was chosen by lot to fill the vacancy in the Twelve resulting from the death of Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:16-25). Early Church tradition places Matthias in a number of locations. Some historians suggest that he went to Ethiopia; others place him in Armenia, the first nation to adopt Christianity as a national religion. Martyred for his faith, Matthias may well have met his death at Colchis in Asia Minor, around AD 50. The Church of St. Matthias at Trier, Germany, claims the honor of being the final burial site for Matthias, the only one of the Twelve to be buried in Europe north of the Alps.

Commemorations

5th of February – Jacob
Jacob, the third of the three Hebrew patriarchs, was the younger of the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. After wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, Jacob, whose name means  “deceiver,” was renamed Israel, which means “he strives with God” (Genesis 25:26; 32:28). His family life was filled with trouble, caused by his acts of deception toward his father  and his brother, Esau, and his parental favoritism toward his son Joseph. Much of his adult life was spent grieving over the death of his beloved wife Rachel and the presumed death  of Joseph, who had been appointed by the Egyptian pharaoh to be in charge of food distribution during a time of famine in the land. Prior to Jacob’s death, through the  blessing of his sons, God gave the promise that the Messiah would come through the line of Jacob’s fourth son, Judah (Genesis 49).

10th of February – St. Silas
Silas, a leader in the Church at Jerusalem, was chosen by Paul (Acts 15:40) to accompany him on his second missionary journey from Antioch to Asia Minor and Macedonia. Silas,  also known as Silvanus, was imprisoned with Paul in Philippi and experienced the riots in Thessalonica and Berea. After rejoining Paul in Corinth, Silas apparently remained there  for an extended time. Sometime later he apparently joined the apostle Peter, likely serving as Peter’s secretary (1 Peter 5:12). Tradition says that Silas was the first bishop at Corinth. 13th of February – Aquila, Prisca (Priscilla), and Apollos Aquila and his wife, Prisca (Priscilla), Jewish contemporaries of St. Paul, traveled widely. Because of persecution in Rome,  they went to Corinth where they met the apostle Paul, who joined them in their trade of tentmaking (Acts 18:1-3). In turn, they joined Paul in his mission of proclaiming the  Christian Gospel. The couple later traveled with Paul from Corinth to Ephesus (Acts 18:18), where the two of them established a home that served as hospitality headquarters for new  converts to Christianity. Apollos was one of their numerous Jewish pupils in the faith. An eloquent man, Apollos, “being fervent in spirit … spoke and taught accurately the  things concerning Jesus” (Acts 18:25). He later traveled from Corinth to the province of Achaia, “showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus” (Acts 18:28). Aquila, Priscilla,  and Apollos are all remembered and honored for their great missionary zeal.

14th of February – Valentine
A physician and priest living in Rome during the rule of Emperor Claudius, Valentine became one of the noted martyrs of the third century. The commemoration of his death, which  occurred in AD 270, became part of the calendar of remembrance in the Early Church of the West. Tradition suggests that on the day of his execution for his Christian faith, Valentine left a note of encouragement for a child of his jailer written on an irregularly shaped piece of paper. This greeting became a pattern for millions of written expressions of  love and caring that now are the highlight of Valentine’s Day in many nations.

15th of February – Philemon and Onesimus
Philemon was a prominent first-century Christian who owned a slave named Onesimus. Although the name Onesimus means “useful,” Onesimus proved himself “useless” when he  ran away from his master and perhaps even stole from him (Philemon 18). Somehow Onesimus came into contact with the apostle Paul while the latter was in prison (possibly in  Rome), and through Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel, he became a Christian. After confessing to the apostle that he was a runaway slave, Onesimus was directed by Paul to return  to his master and become “useful” again. In order to help pave the way for Onesimus’s peaceful return home, Paul sent him on his waywith a letter addressed to Philemon, a letter in  which he urged Philemon to forgive his slave for running away and to “receive him as you would receive me” (v. 17), “no longer as a slave but … as a beloved brother” (v. 16). The  letter was eventually included by the Church as one of the books of the New Testament.

16th of February – Philipp Melanchthon
Confessor Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560) was a   brilliant student of the classics and a humanist scholar. In 1518, he was appointed to teach along with Martin Luther at the University of Wittenberg. At Luther’s urging, Melanchthon began teaching theology and Scripture in addition to his courses in classical studies. In April 1530, Emperor Charles V called an official meeting between the  representatives of Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism, hoping to effect a meeting of minds between two opposing groups. Since Luther was at that time under papal  excommunication and an imperial ban, Melanchthon was assigned the duty of being the chief Lutheran representative at this meeting. He is especially remembered and honored as the author of the Augsburg Confession, which was officially presented by the German princes to the emperor on June 23, 1530, as the defining document of  Lutheranism within  Christendom. Melanchthon died on April 19, 1560.

18th of February – Martin Luther
Martin Luther, born on November 10, 1483, in Eisleben, Germany, initially began studies leading toward a degree in law. However, after a close encounter with death he switched to the study of theology, entered an Augustinian monastery, was ordained a priest in 1505, and received a doctorate in theology in 1512. As a professor at the newly established University of Wittenberg, Luther’s scriptural studies led him to question many of the as Church’s teachings and practices, especially the selling of indulgences. His refusal to back down from his convictions resulted in his excommunication in 1521. Following a period of seclusion at the Wartburg castle, Luther returned to Wittenberg, where he spent the rest of his life preaching and teaching, translating the Scriptures, and writing hymns and numerous theological treatises. He is remembered and honored for his lifelong emphasis on the biblical truth that for Christ’s sake God declares us righteous by grace through faith alone. Luther died on February 18, 1546, while visiting the town of his birth.

23rd of February – Polycarp of Smyrna
Born around AD 69, Polycarp was a central figure in the Early Church. A disciple of the evangelist John, he linked the first generation of believers to later Christians. After serving for many years as bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp was arrested, tried, and executed for his faith on February 23, in AD 155 or 156. An eyewitness narrative of his death, The Martyrdom of Polycarp continues to encourage believers in times of persecution.

A Note for the Reader:
On the Gesimas: The three Sundays of the Church Year between the Transfiguration and Ash Wednesday are known as the Gesimas (Jeh-zi-mas) or Pre-Lent. They are unique to the One-Year Lectionary and have a strong history in the church throughout the ages. The titles are Latin for numbers: Septuagesima (Seventieth), Sexagesima (Sixtieth), Quinquagesima (Fiftieth). The Gospel lessons for each Sunday correspond clearly to the three solas: Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), and Sola Fide (Faith Alone). Pre-Lent marks a transition time for the church, the color remains green and the Gloria in Excelsis remains in the Divine Service. But the Alleluias are buried on the Saturday after the Transfiguration and the Tract (verses from the Psalms fitting for each Sunday) replaces it in the service. These three Sundays prepare us for Lent. They focus us on God and His grace, His Word and the faith which He gives us through His Word.
-Pastor R. W. Paul

27 January 2014, The Commemoration of St. John Chrysostom, Monday of Epiphany III
Resources utilized for this monthly project were the Lectionary Summaries from lcms.org and the Treasury of Daily Prayer (CPH). The artwork is from Higher Things, Inc. This information is for instructional church use only and not for profit of any kind.

From the Pastors

Published on February 4, 2014

Salvation unto us has come
By God’s free grace and favor;
Good works cannot avert our doom,
They help and save us never.
Faith looks to Jesus Christ alone,
Who did for all the world atone;
He is our one Redeemer. (LSB 555:1)

The month of February in the life of the Church is often one in flux. We begin this month with the rare celebration of the Presentation of our Lord on a Sunday (February 2). For more information on each of the Sundays of this month see “This Month in the Church Year” now a monthly series for our newsletter.

Duccio di Buoninsegna, "The Transfiguration"The switch to the One Year Lectionary this past Advent changes the contours a bit more. February 9th is the Transfiguration of our Lord. This ends Epiphany, but Ash Wednesday will not arrive until March 5th. In the meantime the Church remembers the grace of God in the three week period of Pre-Lent or Gesima-tide. Each of these Sundays with their Latin names commemorates the grace of God and prepares us for Lent when we meditate upon our sin and mankind’s need for the Christ who suffered and died on our behalf. This period of Pre-Lent is a rich one.

The hymn stanza above, from Salvation Unto Us Has Come, therefore serves as a wonderful reminder for us this month of February. Salvation has come to the world and is given here in the Church. The feasts of Christ celebrate this (the Presentation of our Lord); the Transfiguration celebrates this. Pre-Lent then also keeps this fact before our eyes: the person and work of Christ are paramount to salvation.

The world clouds our minds with media and politics which distract us from this central truth of justification. Current events bring this evermore to light. We are certainly to love our neighbor and serve God in the world through our vocations; but the devil tries to get us to trust in our works and vocation more than He who has given them to us. Let this February then serve to focus you on God’s gifts of mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus.

Since Christ has full atonement made
And brought to us salvation,
Each Christian therefore may be glad
And build on this foundation.
Your grace alone, dear Lord, I plead,
Your death is now my life indeed,
For you have paid my ransom. (LSB 555:6)

In Christ,

Pastor Paul

Newsletter: April 2013

Published on April 29, 2013

Consecration and Calling MinistersAs you receive this current newsletter, we continue our celebration of our Lord's Resurrection. In fact, we never stop the celebration because we belong to our living Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As I reflect on this Lenten and Easter season, I am reminded of the life of the Church – God's continued grace and blessings given out to overflowing – the life that God gives us (Both temporal and eternal) – and the joys an sorrows that we all experience as brothers and sisters in Christ.

The middle of January marked my tenth year as your Pastor. I am so thankful for all of you and the blessings God has bestowed on us. And I look forward, but God's grace, to future years caring for God's people here. The other day I came across an article from some years ago in “The Life of the World” magazine. It struck a chord with me in light of the past ten years, and also may help give us a perspective as we move into some uncharted waters with an associate pastor. I'd like to share it with you. The article is called, “Consecration and Calling of Ministers,” by Rev. Philip G. Meyer.

God's continued blessings to you as we continue to receive our Lord's gifts and serve our neighbor.

With love in Christ,

Pastor Praeuner

Newsletter: March 2013

Published on March 10, 2013

Palm SundayDear friends in Christ,

As we continue our journey through this Lenten Season, we move ever closer to Holy Week - Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday - and to the victorious Resurrection of our Lord. The impact of God’s Word and the focus of repentance cannot help but make us turn our eyes to
the Cross - to the death and resurrection of Jesus. I pray that this season has been and continues to be a blessing to all of you. A week or so ago, I ran across an article in the Good News magazine which deals with sinful man’s thinking and desire that we are the ones who choose to follow Jesus - that faith is something that we conjure up within ourselves. I’d like to share a portion of this article with you:

QUESTION:
How can you prevent Satan from twisting Scripture and causing you to believe the false teachings
that you connect yourself to God by “committing Your life to Him?”

ANSWER:
By following the example of how Jesus drove the devil away in the wilderness; by pointing to the full and clear teaching of the Spirit as revealed in Scripture; by repeating daily, if not hourly:

“For by grace you are saved, through faith, it is a gift ...”
Again, “For by grace I am saved, through faith, it is a gift;”
And again, “For by grace I am saved, through faith, it [faith] is a gift.”

Repeating key sections of God’s Scripture is, for His children, not a burden, but a joy! (Philippians 3:1). Continually thank your heavenly Father for His gift of faith! Why is it so important that this teaching of the Spirit be embedded So deeply in your mind and soul? Because, whether you are awake or asleep, Knowing that faith is God’s gift means that you do not need to be tempted by daily doubts and uncertainties, because your faith is in God’s hands. “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

God continue to bless and keep you as He has promised, and give you a hunger for His means of grace which are poured out for you to overflowing.

With love in Christ,

Pastor Praeuner